Cowboy Jam Session: Good reads from Gordon, Nebraska’s Cowboy Museum
Located in the Nebraska Panhandle, between the Pine Ridge bluffs and the rolling Sandhills, Gordon is home to the Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Memorial Museum. Originally constructed in 1969, the log structure serves as a tribute to the old-time cowboys who worked as ranch hands in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming and to those who performed at the Sheridan County Rodeo. Inductions into the Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Hall of Fame are held in conjunction with the Sheridan County Fair and Rodeo, also in Gordon.
Cowboy memorabilia from the late 1800s through the present day are displayed within the building situated in Winship Park at Fourth and Oak streets. Exhibits include arrowheads, a chuck wagon, saddles, chaps, spurs, hats, barbed wire, tools, gear, photographs, paintings, rodeo programs and other artifacts and relics pertaining to ranching and cowboys.
Recently expanded, admission to the museum is free. It is open afternoons June 1 through September 15 from 1-5 p.m., and anytime by appointment. To schedule an appointment call David at (308) 282-1115 or Willis at (308) 282–0662.
The museum offers quite a nice selection of books for sale, the proceeds of which help maintain the facility. Several are unique to the museum, published by the organization to preserve the history of its members and of the region. They are filled with great old stories and historical tidbits you won’t find anywhere else. Any of them will provide hours of entertainment in addition to serving as genealogical resources for those with ties to the area. Send orders to Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Memorial Museum, PO Box 202, Gordon, NE 69343.
Cowboy Trails & Trials
By members of the Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Association (Published by Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Memorial Museum, Inc., 1981, 262 pages, b/w photos, softcover, no ISBN) retails for $25. Add $3 for shipping/handling.
This collection of biographical histories of early settlers, cowboys and cattlemen includes correspondence sent to Frank O’Rourke in his capacity as charter member and secretary-treasurer of the Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Association during the organization’s development. Included are stories of the early outfits that ran longhorn steers, how rodeo developed, the coming of immigrant trains carrying settlers, and life on the ensuing homesteads.
More Cowboy Trails & Trials
By Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys and Tri-State Old-Time Cowgirls (Published by Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Memorial Museum, Inc., 1987, 132 pages, b/w photos, softcover, no ISBN) retails for $20. Add $3 for shipping/handling.
More family histories are contained in the second volume of collected stories, poetry, and photos from rodeos in Cody, Gordon and Burwell, Neb., Hot Springs, S.D., and others. It includes accounts of horse trading, chuck wagon races, horse thieves, riding night guard, murder, and the days of the big cattle ranches.
Dusting off the Saddles
By members of the Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Association (Published by Tri-State Old-Time Cowboys Memorial Museum Inc., 1993, 153 pages, b/w photos, hardback, no ISBN) retails for $25. Add $3 for shipping/handling.
Preserving the names of first- and second-generation westerners, this volume opens with “To the Good Old Boys … The Passing of an Era,” about the buying, processing, breaking, and training of horses at the Ft. Robinson (Neb.) Remount Station. It’s a fascinating look at the work that 25 civilian cowboys performed while caring for the 4,500 to 6,000 head of horses that were typically at the fort at any given time. Other offerings recount blizzards, moonshine, cattle rustling, and roundups.
Cowgirl Capers and Cookin’: Recollections and Recipes of the Members of the Tri-State Old-Time Cowgirls Association
(Published by Tri-State Cowgirls Association, 2005, 178 pages, b/w photos, spiral-bound, no ISBN) retails for $15. Add $3 for shipping/handling.
A 1942 photo of washday on the Ravenscroft home ranch graces the cover of this volume devoted entirely to women’s histories. In addition to more than 75 submitted biographies, there’s a generous offering of favorite recipes from several generations of Great Plains cooks. The dishes range from staples such as chokecherry jelly and baking powder biscuits, to angel food cake and cream sugar cookies, from suet pudding to broiled skunk.